I love absolutely everything about writing.
Theorizing about writing—pacing, spatial organization, character and world building, narrative construction, all of it. I also enjoy picking apart sentences, paragraphs, chapters, books, and seeing what makes them tick. Finding out how to make things cohesive, and alternately how to break down those cohesions and unsettle the reader. I even get a kick out of editing. It allows me to discover my themes, analyze my characters and their choices, problem solve.
Imagining things. I wake up in the morning excited that I get to think all day—create and live with what I create. I am enthralled by the way that art—good art, both observed and self-created—supports me as I go about my business. I seek out music, painted art, sculpture, performance, anything that leads me to better imaginings.
Teaching students to write, when they really take it seriously. I am consistently grateful that I am in a position where I can help other people learn about their own written voice and how to make it useful, helpful, and positive in their lives. Watching another person grow into their writing is fantastic.
Noticing things. One of the best ways to learn about writing is through simple observation. I tend to compose micro-fictions and non-fictions in my head as I see things. This helps me to practice writing description, and also strengthens and engages my memory. As a result, I have very vivid recollections of my life and those events that have happened tangentially. Which is wonderful to me.
Overhearing bus conversations, airport greetings, people crossing the street, anything that could help me build characters with believable humanity. And I am more and more invested in new experiences and travels every day, which help me build a repertoire of experience and place.
Reading. Reading does not lead good authors to acts of thievery, but rather to an exquisitely varied mental library.
Conversing. I place a high value on intelligent conversation that makes me think, as well as loveable and lighthearted conversation that draws me out of my head once in a while. Both types are necessary to creative process, and as I’ve learned, my closest friends, family members, and colleagues are masters of the art.
Writing—just the plain old tangible and tactile act. I cannot get enough of pencils and tea and paper. I am soothed and eased by the act of writing. I love holding the written word, feeling indentations in the page, and smelling new notebooks.
And because I love these things, and the process of pursuing them, I am a writer, and have been for as long as I can remember. This doesn’t mean that my work has been publishable for as long as I can remember, or that it’s even publishable now (although I think some of it is, at this point). But, nevertheless, I am a writer.
I don’t think we all have to love the same things, or that you necessarily need to love all the things in the above list in order to be a writer. You don’t have to sleep with a book under your pillow, lust after stationary and card shops, or name your pencils. But it might be worthwhile trying out a few things I’ve mentioned if you want to start writing. Keep an observation book for a while, find some new artists to study, surround yourself with inspiring people.
And whatever positive and productive thing you find that makes you feel like a writer?
Love it unabashedly. Never look back.